Integrating Physics and Literacy Learning in a Physics Course for Prospective Elementary and Middle School Teachers

Jun. 01, 2013

Source: Journal of Science Teacher Education, Vol. 24, Issue 4, p. 665-691, June 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors have explored the following questions about their own teaching practices: How can they integrate science and literacy learning in a physics course for prospective teachers?
Their purpose has been to document how they are teaching the course and to share examples of what students are learning.

They describe a course, involving collaboration among physics, science education, and literacy faculty members and two graduate assistants.
The course emphasized questioning, predicting, exploring, observing, discussing, writing, and reading in physical science contexts
They used routinely video class sessions, archive electronic bulletin board entries, and copy homework, examinations, and reflective journals.


The authors argue that faculty who used implicit modeling of literacy learning, such as peer instruction, already provide opportunities for students to speak physics with one another as well as listen to lectures.
Furthermore, encouraging interactive engagement outside of class also would enhance learning.
Faculty can make assignments that involve students in interviewing friends and/or family members about the topic currently presented in class and engaging them in exploring that topic with simple equipment likely to be found at home.
Emphasis would be placed on listening closely to what was said and asking questions to elicit clarifications and justifications.
Students could post their findings on an electronic bulletin board for a small amount of credit with little extra work for the instructor.
Such postings also could provide useful information for the instructor about ways to make connections among topics in the course and everyday life.

In addition, introducing pre-, during-, and post-reading strategies in large lecture courses could help students learn how to make better use of their textbooks and associated materials. Explicitly requiring students to read and respond to questions before class supports peer instruction during lecture and can alert faculty to difficulties that need to be addressed.
Faculty also could assign students to critique relevant blogs and websites to learn by accessing a variety of presentations on a topic.

Faculty can also encourage students to approach typical physics problems systematically by sketching the situation, reviewing and writing relevant physics principles, and explicitly using the relevant physics principles to explain their analyses of the situation before undertaking mathematical calculations.
The authors conclude that integrating physics and literacy learning can help students perceive science to be an ideal context to foster learning across the disciplines.

Updated: Sep. 09, 2014